More than 1,100 former Justice Department employees have signed an online petition calling on Attorney General William Barr to resign, saying his interference in criminal matters for Donald Trump’s friends and allies poses a “grave threat” to the country.
“In this nation, we are all equal before the law. A person should not be given special treatment in a criminal prosecution because they are a close political ally of the President,” the petition reads.
It continues, “Governments that use the enormous power of law enforcement to punish their enemies and reward their allies are not constitutional republics; they are autocracies.”
The petition comes after Barr apparently intervened in the sentencing of longtime Trump ally Roger Stone, overruling the career prosecutors on the case to recommend the judge give him a lighter sentence. Stone was convicted in November on seven counts of obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and lying to Congress, actions discovered during the course of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s nearly two-year-long Russia probe.
The announcement that Stone’s recommended prison time had been changed took place hours after Trump tweeted that he thought the proposed nine-year sentence was “unfair,” even though that sentence followed federal guidelines.
Barr’s apparent interference in the case led the four top prosecutors who secured his conviction to resign in protest.
The signatories of the petition applaud those resignations.
“We support and commend the four career prosecutors who upheld their oaths and stood up for the Department’s independence by withdrawing from the Stone case and/or resigning from the Department,” the petition reads. “Our simple message to them is that we — and millions of other Americans — stand with them.”
Trump, for his part, has claimed the “legal right” to intervene in criminal matters relating to his friends — despite the fact that this violates the precedent of an independent DOJ.
Judge Reggie Walton — who was appointed by former President George W. Bush — said last week that Trump’s targeting of perceived political enemies such as former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, whom Trump has claimed was part of a broader attempt to undermine his presidency from within the Justice Department, is something that happens in a “banana republic.“
The DOJ on Friday closed its investigation into McCabe and announced it would not pursue criminal charges over claims he leaked information about a confidential case to media outlets.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.